JKUAT MARKS THE TWELFTH TECH EXPO

JKUAT Tech Expo, is an annual student-driven event incepted in 2009 that seeks to encourage and support students’ innovative ideas

Nishati Safi, a solar-powered street food trolley, took that day as JKUAT staged its twelfth tech expo edition showcasing 21 innovations, November 17-18, 2022. The winning innovation seeks to harness solar energy as the power source to keep the food inside the trolley warm without harming the consumer, vendor or the environment.

Khamisi Muniru (left) explains how his solar powered street vending machine works.

According to Khamisi Muniru, more than 2 million street food vendors use charcoal to cook and warm food putting their health at risk due to the constant exposure to carbon monoxide.

“In order to keep the food warm, these trolleys use charcoal as the main energy source. Cocktails of toxic air pollutants are served up alongside the on-the-go meals, these include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter which pose food safety risks to the consumers. In addition, the pollutants are detrimental to the environment and the health of the vendor,” explains Khamisi, one of the innovators of Nishati Safi.

Coming in second during the two-day expo was ‘Sign Speak’. The innovation involves the digitization of sign language in order to facilitate the automatic translation of speech to and from sign language.

Mark Maara explains how his Sign Speak innovation works. Listen on is (from left) Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, Tech Expo Project Manager, Beatrice Karimi and Director General NACOSTI, Prof. Walter Oyawa.

Mark Maara says his innovation comes in two parts. “The first part is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) that can read the hand gestures of someone who is signing and translate it into text. The other part is an open graphics engine that takes text as input and can display a digital character signing the input as sign language.”

Mark believes that the innovation will be vital in making digital information more easily accessible to the hearing impaired and make it easier for them to live their lives much like ordinary hearing people do.

With digital agricultural innovations proliferating across the country, a group of students delved into Smart Beehive to help bee farmers monitor several hives and inform the farmer when to harvest honey via a text message on their phone.

Bagging third place, the innovation employs science and technology to naturally remove the mites and monitor the health of bees.

During the opening ceremony of the Tech Expo, Director General, National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), Prof. Walter Oyawa lauded the students’ innovations showcased saying innovation was the way to go if the country was to transform.

He however acknowledged that, for the innovation to move to the next step of commercialization, concerted efforts were needed to guarantee the growth of the innovations for Kenya to achieve its technological and innovation agenda.

“These innovators cannot do it alone. Let us work together, link them with relevant companies and institutions to grow and commercialize their innovation,” said Prof. Oyawa.

While appreciating JKUAT for providing an enabling environment for the students to innovate, Prof. Oyawa advised both the institution and the student innovators to position themselves and tap into the government’s vision.

“I would like to urge the innovators to remember that your innovation will not change lives until you take the next step and venture into the real world. Do not be afraid to start, no matter the scale but remember to be conscious of the government’s strategic direction and priority areas,” advised Prof. Oyawa.

Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi called upon the support of the government and private sector to ensure the incubation and commercialization of students’ innovations. In the same breadth, she asked the innovators, through their innovations, to proactively support the realization of the new government’s development agenda for the benefit of Kenyans.

“It is my hope that the government and private sector will partner with our institution to help create an enabling environment where ideas and innovations that count can benefit from mentorship, incubation and business support to become fully grown commercial entities,” said Prof. Ngumi.

JKUAT Tech Expo 12.0 opening ceremony was also addressed by acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Jackson Kwanza, JKUAT Tech Expo Chairman, Michael Waititu and JKUAT Tech Expo Event Organizer, Prisca Orori.

JKUAT Tech Expo, is an annual student-driven event incepted in 2009 that seeks to encourage and support students’ innovative ideas across the country in a bid to bolster innovation, collaboration and education.

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